blocking out-of-office

Jethro R Binks jethro.binks at
Thu Aug 3 20:34:04 IST 2006

On Thu, 3 Aug 2006, Koopmann, Jan-Peter wrote:

> On Thursday, August 03, 2006 9:07 PM Rick Chadderdon wrote:
> > I'm curious as to some of the situations you believe need OoO.  I
> > can't think of any that wouldn't be better handled by a different
> > solution. Of course, "better" is subjective, so I might have
> > considered the situations you're referring to and felt differently. 
> > Still, can you give me an idea of what you're thinking?
> I tend to get private and business mail in one mailbox. Therefore I 
> cannot simply forward all my mail to a collegue or give him/her access 
> to it. Maybe there is not even a collegue so things simply have to wait 
> a week but I want to let the client/customer/friend know. Etc.

This is quite common.

We have legal reasons for requiring OoO; for example, the Freedom of 
Information Act in England and Wales considers a request sent by email to 
be 'received' by a public authority unless the sender hears otherwise (by 
way of a bounce or OoO).  If you're away for two or three weeks and hence 
don't respond to the request within the prescribed time, and the sender 
has no reason to believe the request has not been received (no OoO), then 
the public authority has failed in the obligations the Act places upon it.

But likewise I don't like the lack of controllability that Exchange (which 
is used internally) offers for OoO.  I have implemented autoresponse 
systems in Exim with extreme measures so that it won't respond to, 
generically, 'stuff that it shouldn't respond to', so far as that is 
possible.  I can't do a fraction of that stuff with Exchange, so it will 
willy-nilly send mail out in response to practically any old tat it 

You can mitigate things by having delegated access to mailboxes, of 
course, but that all gets rather sticky where personal mail may be present 
(or there is no-one appropriate to delegate to, or whether mailbox 
contents really confidential to their owner, or there is no-one available 
to authorise delegation, or whatever).  Saying "personal mail is not 
permitted" isn't good enough unfortunately; regardless of whether it 
should be there or not, if it is there, it needs to be treated with 

(Because of all this, I have been writing guidelines for our users in this 
area; how they should use OoOs, recommendations how they should handle 
personal mail, and so on).


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Jethro R Binks
Computing Officer, IT Services
University Of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK

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